Your guide to donating gluten-free food to food banks

Tomorrow, December 1, is Giving Tuesday. Giving Tuesday happens on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, and is intended to help kick off the “giving season.” It’s also meant to remind us that the holidays are about more than consumerism—they’re also about doing good and giving back.

One way you can give back during the holiday season is by donating food to your local food bank. Did you know that many food banks are actively seeking donations of allergy-friendly food?

Food banks need gluten-free food!

As we all know, gluten-free food isn’t always the cheapest. Even foods that are naturally gluten-free, like produce and meats, can be expensive. And certainly processed gluten-free foods can be costlier, particularly because of the increased expense (dedicated facilities, more expensive ingredients, etc.) it takes to make this food.

Think about how hard it is for you to find or afford gluten-free food sometimes. Now think about how it’s even more difficult for someone of lesser means to have access to it. This is where food banks really come in handy. But they can’t help families and people who need to be gluten-free if they don’t have safe foods to give them!

I’ll be donating gluten-free food to a local food bank this holiday season, and I encourage you to do the same. If you’re interested in donating, the below tips can help.

Want to donate? Try these tips

  • Aim to provide staple gluten-free foods that a family doesn’t necessarily have to use during the holidays, but could use anytime. For instance: boxed rice like Minute Rice, Potato Buds, boxes of gluten-free pasta, boxed gluten-free macaroni and cheese, boxes or gluten-free all-purpose flour.
  • If providing canned foods, look for foods that don’t have added seasonings or sauces, as those may contain gluten. Purchase fruits canned in their own juice, applesauce, canned vegetables, canned beans, or gluten-free canned soups (my favorite is Aldi’s gluten-free chicken noodle soup).
  • If you want to provide meat that can last a while, consider giving gluten-free cans of tuna or chicken, or a canned gluten-free ham.
  • Don’t be afraid to throw in a few treats, such as a boxed gluten-free cake mix, muffin mix, or pancake mix. Although these may not be everyday foods, they’ll surely be appreciated and will provide a family with a special meal or treat.
  • Some, but not all, food banks will accept items that need to be frozen or refrigerated. If you want to provide these types of items, call your local food bank or visit their website to ensure that they accept these types of things before you bring them over.
  • Avoid giving perishables. Also avoid giving products that are in glass bottles or containers, as they can break.
  • Don’t have time to go out and buy food to give to the food bank? Instead, give them a gift card to a grocery store, so the food bank can buy items that are most needed in their community.
  • Some food banks accept more than just food! Consider giving your local food bank baby items, such as formula or diapers, that your child no longer needs. Personal care products, like soap, shampoo, and deodorant, may also be accepted.
  • On a budget yourself? Buy gluten-free food to donate at retailers like Aldi, Target, or store-brand gluten-free products at your local grocery store chain; foods at these stores, or by their store brands, are often lower-priced.

Not sure where to donate?

If you’re looking to donate to a food bank this holiday season, these websites can help you locate the food bank closest to you:

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